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Local arts council shares $4.75M grant for Central Coast

Program aims to use art to improve community outcomes

Local artist Phillip Ray Orabuena paints at a recent Arts in the Park event in Hollister. Photo: Contributed

The San Benito County Arts Council, Arts Council for Monterey County, Arts Council Santa Cruz County, San Luis Obispo County Arts Council, Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture and the Ventura County Arts Council announced that the Central Coast Region has been awarded a competitive $4.75 million grant to support the health, safety and resiliency of Central Coast communities through the arts.

The grant program, California Creative Corps, was developed by the California Arts Council in partnership with the state legislature, says a press release from the San Benito County Arts Council. California Creative Corps is an economic and workforce recovery pilot program intended to support pandemic recovery and the environmental, civic and social engagement of California’s most disproportionately impacted communities. Using a variety of art forms—including visual, performing and traditional arts—artists will advance positive community outcomes by creating locally-focused, contextually and culturally sensitive public messaging and work.

The initiative represents an unprecedented collaboration between county-designated arts agencies from all six counties, says the press release. The arts agencies will work cooperatively to support program administration and serve as primary partners, service providers and communication conduits in their respective geographies.

“This is an incredible opportunity to bring close to $5 million in economic recovery funds to the Central Coast region and in doing so, demonstrate the vast potential of artists working alongside nonprofits and government agencies to further community and economic development goals in the areas of public health, civic engagement, climate resilience and social justice,” said Jennifer Laine, executive director of the San Benito County Arts Council.  

Modeled in the style of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the grant funding will support a media, outreach and engagement campaign designed to increase public health awareness messages to stop the spread of Covid-19; improve public awareness related to water and energy conservation, climate mitigation and emergency preparedness, relief and recovery; enhance civic engagement, including election participation; and provide more social justice and community engagement. 

Projects are intended to cultivate trust, belonging, community cohesion and interdependence—particularly in communities that are most impacted, the press release continues. Communities located in the lowest quartile of the California Healthy Places Index will be prioritized. 

The program will be implemented in multiple phases, and the regional guidelines and application process will be released in fall 2022. All funds will be distributed by Sept. 30, 2024.